About 2.4 lakh Tirupati laddus of the hill shrine of the Venkateswara temple at Tirumala were sold on the first day of sales at subsidised price, in headquarters of 12 districts in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, a temple official said. However, Guntur district was barred from the sale of laddus because of the severe COVID-19 impact. The stock meant for the district was shifted to nearby Vijayawada, the official told PTI.
Devotees reportedly queued up at TTD marriage halls and TTD Information Centres for the ‘prasadam’ or offering of the laddu, observing all COVID-19 guidelines in the presence of local government machinery. The whole stock of laddus was sold within a few hours in most districts of the state, the official told PTI.
The laddu, which is priced at Rs 50 each, was sold at Rs 25 as a token of gift to the devotees during the COVID-19 lockdown period, he said. The entry of devotees to the more than 2,000-year-old temple that used to draw tens of thousands of people from across the country every day, has been barred since March 20 to check the spread of COVID-19.
The TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) trust board, that governs the hill shrine, is awaiting the nod of governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana to transport the laddus to devotees in Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad during the lockdown, he said.
On Monday, the state government issued orders asking the TTD board to withhold the auctioning of some of its properties, following opposition from the BJP and its ally, Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP). The opposition had continued in spite of repeated clarifications from TTD chairman Y V Subba Reddy that the properties were unviable and prone to encroachment, and that the decision to auction them had been taken back in 2016 under the TDP government. The board has now been asked to consult various stakeholders and the public over the issue.